Barclays is the only top six firm not listed by the regulator’s report out today, with Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, Santander, Nat West Bank and HSBC in the first group to participate in summer 2016.
The Advice Unit will also now accept firms that want to provide guidance instead of regulated advice as well as firms not intending to seek authorisation.
The Unit was established in 2016 following a recommendation from the Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR).
The unit is open to applications from firms of all sizes, whether new start-ups or large firms, provided they meet the regulator’s eligibility criteria.
Two groups of firms have participated in the advice service so far. The first summer 2016 group included: evestor, FinEx Capital Management, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Money Guidance, Mortimer Mackenzie, NatWest Bank, Nationwide Building Society, True Potential Investments, Santander.
The second group of seven firms joined in early 2017, included: 1825 (part of the Standard Life group), Direct Life & Pension Services, Investec Click & Invest, Moneyfarm, Multiply.ai, Personal Touch Financial Services and WealthKernel.
The FCA also confirmed plans to expand the scope of the service to help firms developing automated advice models within the mortgage, general insurance and debt advice sectors.
The application process is also changing so that the Advice Unit will now be accepting applications from firms throughout the year.
The FCA has also today published the FAMR Baseline Report.
The Baseline Report has identified three main themes to measure the development of the market. They are accessibility, affordability and quality of advice. These will be tracked on an annual basis and results will be published on the FCA website.
The baseline findings will be used as a benchmark to assess the outcomes of FAMR when conducting the review in 2019.
The FCA has also confirmed that the post-implementation review of the Retail Distribution Review, scheduled for 2017, will now be combined with the 2019 FAMR review. This will allow the market time to react to the regulatory change from both FAMR and MiFID II and also allow the FCA to make best use of its resources and minimise the reporting burden on firms.
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “The Advice Unit’s initial work, including the support it has provided to firms, has shown its potential and the changes announced today present a further opportunity to widen consumer access to financial advice and guidance across a broader range of sectors.”